You might have heard a lot about kratom recently, as it is one of the hottest new all-natural products on the market. Gaining steady popularity amongst users for the treatment of many conditions, there is a huge legal gray area surrounding kratom as government agencies try to curb the usage of the drug. For this reason, we have put together this guide to kratom, it’s usage and the legal status surrounding it.
Kratom comes from the plant species Mitragyna speciosa, which is a tree related to the coffee plant that grows throughout Southeast Asia. The tree produces leaves that can be chewed, brewed to make kratom teas and smoked in order to get the effects of the kratom. It has been used safely for thousands of years within the communities of this region, and has been described in the Western world since the early 19th century and has been used in the U.S. since the early 2000s.
Kratom has demonstrated huge benefits in users. So why is the legal status of kratom so up in the air? The reason for the questionable legal status of kratom comes down to the science, politics, and regulation of the herb for regular use. We will discuss these issues below.
Types of kratom and the effects they produce
Kratom is generally characterized into three types based on the type of leaves the plant produces: green vein kratom, white vein kratom and red vein kratom. Each type of kratom is responsible for producing different effects on the user when ingested. You will want to choose the correct strain of kratom for the symptom that you want to treat so that you don’t get any effects that could exacerbate the problem.
1. Red vein kratom
Red vein kratom is easily the most popular form of kratom thanks to the feelings of complete calmness and relaxation that this type produces. Users report that red vein kratom has the ability to help with issues like anxiety and stress, and can even help with chronic issues like pain and insomnia. The effects of red vein kratom are extremely sedating, so if you’re the kind of person that suffers from any of these ailments, this particular type of kratom could be right for you.
White vein kratom is known as the most stimulating of all the kratom varieties. When you take white vein kratom, you feel a burst of energy as well as euphoria, which can be very pleasant for some users. However, not everyone enjoys these feelings, particularly people that suffer from anxiety. Therefore, white vein kratom should only be chosen if you are trying to get through each day without fatigue.
If you like the sound of both red and white vein kratom, then you’ll be happy to hear that green vein kratom is a perfect combination of these two types. Not only will you feel the calming properties of red vein kratom, but you’ll also be able to get a bump of the energy of white vein kratom. Green vein kratom will give you the clarity of mind and energy to get through each day without being overly sedating.
How does kratom work?
Ingesting kratom is as simple as chewing or smoking the leaves, but it’s important to know about exactly what is in the plant that is responsible for causing the stimulating or sedating effects. Kratom leaves are full of alkaloids – organic compounds that produce physiological effects on people – which have anti-inflammatory, anti-depressant and muscle relaxant properties. In fact, there are over twenty-five alkaloids that have been identified in kratom extract.
Despite the fact that kratom acts like an opioid, the compounds in kratom are not opioids. The reason they have this effect is that they interact directly with the opioid receptors. The main alkaloid, mitragynine, is an opioid receptor agonist and produces effects that are similar to morphine.
Opioids are responsible for euphoria, pain-relieving and sedating effects, so the fact that kratom interacts with the same receptors as opioids are the major reason why kratom produces such similar effects. Therefore, kratom has become extremely popular for a number of reasons, one of which is that it can help people in giving up their opioid addictions.
What is kratom used for?
As we mentioned, the uses of kratom are varied and people may use kratom to treat very different symptoms. What might be right for one user may be a reason why another person may not want to take kratom at all. However, it’s very important to know that the type of kratom and the amount you use can influence the way you experience the herb.
At low doses, that is a dose of between 1-5 grams, you’ll find that you receive very milt stimulatory effects, which can help you to push away fatigue and get through the day. At moderate doses, that is a dose between the range 5-15 grams, you will experience opioid-like effects which can reduce pain, treat diarrhea and reduce opiate withdrawal symptoms. At high doses of over 15 grams, you will feel the highly sedating effects of the herm.
There are several main disorders and ailments that kratom is regularly used to treat. Here, we explain the main uses of kratom.
- Pain management
Every year, millions of people experience pain. Whether it is caused by a simple headache or your pain is unmanageable on a daily basis, kratom has the ability to reduce pain without the need for pharmaceuticals. Given the extreme damage that over the counter pain relievers can cause to your liver, this completely natural, herbal alternative is highly attractive as a pain management treatment.
- Sleep disorders
If you suffer from a sleep disorder such as insomnia, then you know that it is difficult to treat without the use of very strong medications that can make you feel like a zombie the next day. This can affect your life negatively as it slows down your thinking processes and prohibits you from working at your best. Kratom can be used instead to give you natural sedation, allowing you to get a full night’s sleep. In smaller doses, kratom can be used to give you the energy boost to get through the day.
- Opiate withdrawal
One of the most difficult aspects of kicking an opiate habit is the withdrawals that the user experiences during detox. These withdrawals can be highly debilitating and can reduce the success of getting and staying clean. As kratom works by interacting with the same receptors that opioids do, the herb can potentiate similar effects without becoming addictive. Therefore, kratom can be used to get through withdrawal so you can kick the habit altogether.
What does science say about kratom?
In order for a new drug or treatment to be introduced into mainstream medicine, rigorous scientific studies need to be performed. Unfortunately, as of now, there have been no large controlled scientific studies to demonstrate the safety and efficacy of kratom, which is largely the reason why the legal status of the herb is so confusing. However, there have been several small scientific studies that have probed the usage of kratom in certain population groups.
Qualitative analysis from 2015 found that though kratom certainly gave users effects such as mood elevation, analgesia, and reduction in anxiety, there were side effects present. These side effects focused mainly on gastrointestinal tract upsets, such as vomiting and stomach upset. This was a post hoc study that relied on self-reporting, and while it gives real data on user experiences, it lacks the control of a rigorous study.
In 2015, a study was performed that found that the average daily dosage for a kratom user in Malaysia was 276.5 milligrams and that higher daily usage was linked to issues with dependence and indicated that withdrawal symptoms were an issue.
These initial studies have focused on the negative side effects of kratom in a qualitative rather than quantitative way. A meta-analysis of the current state of scientific literature was performed in 2017 that described the usefulness of the herb in the community. This study found that while kratom has been used for thousands of years, the legality of kratom has been debated before the real scientific investigation into the safety of the herb has been conducted. In the next section, we discuss the specific legality of kratom.
Where is kratom legal?
The good news is that despite the fact that the science is still catching up in terms of kratom, its effects and the way it should be used, kratom remains legal in a number of places. Within the United States, there are a large number of states that have no restrictions on the use of kratom.
The following states have no kratom restrictions:
- New Mexico
- North Dakota
- South Dakota
- South Carolina
- New Hampshire
- North Carolina
- New York
- West Virginia
- New Jersey
Outside of the U.S., the legality of kratom is also hotly debated. The herb is not banned in Finland, Denmark, Romania, Germany and New Zealand, however the legal status of the substance in these countries is uncertain for now.
Where is kratom illegal?
The legality of kratom is constantly being updated thanks to emerging evidence into the safety and efficacy of the herb. However, there are some U.S. states, cities and counties that have a ban on kratom use. These are outlined below.
The following states contain cities that have a restriction on kratom:
- California (banned in San Diego)
- Colorado (banned in Denver)
- Florida (banned in Sarasota County)
The following states have pending legislation against kratom:
The following states have banned kratom:
- Rhode Island
- Washington DC
Kratom is banned in certain countries. These include Australia, Denmark, Israel, Lithuania, Myanmar, Poland, Romania, South Korea, Sweden and the United Kingdom. One interesting point to make is that kratom is also banned in Malaysia and Thailand, which are two of the founding countries that grow kratom natively. The ban in these two countries is purported to involve politics rather than safety of the drug.
Will the legality of kratom change in the future?
The landscape of law in regards to kratom use is changing constantly, and this is largely because of the number of unknown factors surrounding the all-natural product. The legality of kratom is a hot topic because of the abuse potential of the drug, according to the Food and Drug Administration. However, without rigorous, controlled scientific studies, there is no way to really know the extend of the abuse potential and side effects of kratom alone and when combined with other drugs.
Thankfully, these scientific studies are being performed. Due to the length of time that it takes to conduct such a study, we can’t expect the laws surrounding kratom to change overnight. Given the amount of attention kratom has been getting lately, thanks to the large media focus on the herb as well as a Netflix documentary that demonstrates the effect that kratom has in the lives of people who suffer with chronic pain conditions, you can expect that the science will catch up and the laws will change once and for all, so that you’ll no longer have to wonder if kratom is legal.
Where can you buy kratom?
Buying kratom is relatively easy, particularly within the U.S. The easiest way to buy kratom is online, and you’ll find many reviews and recommendations for the different types of kratom and the formulations you can get them in.
If you suffer from a chronic condition like pain, anxiety or insomnia, then you’re probably looking for a better way to treat your symptoms so that you can live a more manageable and free life. Kratom is a great way to treat your ailments in a natural way so that you can avoid nasty pharmaceutical drugs, and it is legal in many jurisdictions. If you live in a place where the laws regarding kratom have not caught up to the science, then don’t despair – the laws are constantly changing and updating and you may find that kratom is legal in your state soon enough.